No Peep of Protest

Barbara Newman

  • Conduct Becoming: Good Wives and Husbands in the Later Middle Ages by Glenn Burger
    Pennsylvania, 262 pp, £50.00, September 2017, ISBN 978 0 8122 4960 6

Once upon a time, runs a medieval tale, a jealous wife quarrelled with another woman for flirting with her husband. As the women fought, the alleged flirt broke the wife’s nose and ruined her looks for ever, provoking her husband to have affairs in earnest. The moral of the story? ‘This is a good example for all good ladies and gentlewomen about how they ought to bear things graciously.’ No blame attaches to the faithless husband.

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[*] An excellent translation by Gina Greco and Christine Rose, The Good Wife’s Guide: A Medieval Household Book, is published by Cornell.